Sixty Seconds with Brigitte Daniel, Executive Vice President of Wilco Electronic Systems. Wilco is working in a public-private partnership with Temple University students to create mobile apps that will offer practical help to neighboring Philadelphia Housing Authority residents. The program is intended to decrease the digital divide while providing tangible services.
Q. Have you identified the biggest challenges facing PHA residents that need to be addressed?
A. The focus was public health, education, personal finance, transportation and a connection between residents and the Philadelphia Housing Authority as an administration. A lot of paperwork still gets passed back and forth. Hopefully, with creating mobile apps, there will be less paperwork and we can improve the carbon footprint because everything will be more electronic and digital.
Q. What are some of the examples of helpful programs you might develop?
A. There are some apps that could be used to help residents find fresh vegetables from local farms, apps that help find tutoring opportunities offered by Temple students for youth and apps to improve PHA residents’ health by connecting them to the Temple Hospital outreach program. With the apps, we also thought about how to help streamline or find different social services for PHA residents, and that’s huge.
Q. Why smart phones?
A. In low-income communities, there’s a lack of actual computers that are in the home. This has always been seen as an impediment to broadband access and a contribution to the digital divide. Whether a smartphone or regular feature phone, it’s another way you’ll see, in the future, people being involved in access on a large scale. I know that if they don’t have a computer, my residents are going to have cell phone of some sort. If I can create content or apps and they can use their phones in another way, we can tap into broadband access and lessen the gap in Philadelphia.